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Booze industry experts have issued a chilling warning that the British pint could hit £4 a pop - a price hike provoked by crap weather which has forced up the price of hops.

According to a sobering Guardian report, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) estimates the average jar at £2.50 for lager, and £2.20 for bitter. Pundits say prices will rise by at least 15 per cent a pint, with doomongers slapping an extra 60 per cent on the cost of essential liquid refreshment.

This means that the price of a swift lager could skyrocket to an average four quid - enough to test the pocket of the most dedicated drinker.

Camra research and information manager Iain Lowe confirmed: "It is a bleak time for everyone. These price rises have been predicted for a long time. Hop farmers have not seen any price rises for years, but the appalling summer has finally forced the prices up. Prices at the pump could easily go up by 60 per cent."

To add to the gloom, a recent BBPA report revealed that "14 million fewer pints are being sold [per day] in pubs today - a slump of 49 per cent since the peak in 1979", and that major British brewers suffered a profit slump of 78 per cent between 2004 and 2006. Unsurprisingly, the BBPA insists the industry is "being further hampered by the Treasury which claims 33p out of the cost of every pint".

To underline the dire state of affairs, Scottish & Newcastle - responsible for three of Europe's top ten beers including Foster's and Kronenbourg - today confirmed price increases in 2008 "way above the rate of inflation". The company has fingered higher aluminium, cereal and crude oil costs as the cause, the Guardian explains. ®

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